False arrest civil suit reaches settlement
  Burlington man awarded $75,000 in resolution of case.
                
 
  John Mangalonzo reporting        No. of views: 883
  A felon's civil lawsuit against a Des Moines County deputy, the county, and the city of Burlington, as well as area law enforcement agencies and their bosses, has been settled out of court.

The lawsuit filed last year was based on claims of false arrest/false imprisonment, violation of due process and assault and battery.

According to a letter sent to Des Moines County officials by the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, the suit filed by Darren Lee Taeger of Burlington has been resolved through mediation to the tune of $70,000 "in exchange for a full release and dismissal of the lawsuit against Des Moines County and their related parties."

The city of Burlington also settled for $5,000.

The mediation took place Dec. 29.

"We are happy to have it resolved," said Taeger's Des Moines-based attorney, Richard Bartolomei, who declined further comment, citing confidentiality.

Bob Beck, chairman of the county board, said supervisors will include the matter for approval during their meeting Tuesday, but noted "It's a done deal."

"We may have a bit of deductible on it," Beck added, estimating the amount to "maybe up to $5,000, probably about $3,000."

Beck said he doubts the settlement will affect the county's insurance premium.

An Aug. 29, 2008, incident at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington spurred the suit. Taeger, then 26, was assaulted by Des Moines County Sheriff's deputy Eric Joseph Staub during an altercation.

Staub has returned to active duty, but was convicted of simple assault and given a 30-day suspended jail term and a minimum fine of $55. He also received a 15-day unpaid administrative suspension.

Besides the deputy, the lawsuit named the sheriff's office and Sheriff Mike Johnstone, Des Moines County, Burlington Police officer Chris Chiprez, the city of Burlington, the Burlington Police Department and the Southeast Iowa Narcotics Task Force.

Neither Johnstone nor police Chief Dan Luttenegger chose to comment on the case, since the mediators took care of the disposition.

Brent Ruther, an attorney for the city in the lawsuit, said Burlington's part in the payment will not come from the city's insurance.

"It will come out of the city's pocket," he said.

Paperwork dismissing the lawsuit is expected to be filed in district court in the coming weeks.

Most of what transpired between Taeger and Staub during the incident was not disclosed in court papers. The prosecution, which was handled through the Iowa Attorney General's office, also declined to provide details during the case and after its disposition.

All that is contained in the court files are snippets of what two witnesses told investigators they saw when Staub made "physical contact with Taeger," which Taeger found to be "insulting and offensive," causing him "pain."

The investigation indicated the deputy's girlfriend called him while he was on duty to complain about being harassed by Taeger.

In the suit, Taeger's attorney claimed Chiprez went to the college and confronted Taeger in the hallway, "and without legal justification to do so, took physical control and custody of the plaintiff and forced the plaintiff to walk outside the college building where defendant, deputy Eric Staub, was waiting."

Taeger said he was "taunted and threatened" by Staub, who Taeger's attorney said in court papers "slammed (Taeger) into a wall and assaulted and battered the plaintiff."

The suit said students tried to intervene, but the officers "informed them this was police business and ordered them away."

Staub's conviction provided legitimacy to the lawsuit, but Taeger has a record himself.

According to court documents, Taeger has been convicted of drunken driving, criminal mischief, driving while revoked and possession of cocaine.

In November 2008, Taeger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a felony that stemmed from an incident in July that same year. A judge ordered the sentence to run concurrent with a five-year prison term he already was serving.

Taeger had just been given a five-year suspended prison sentence for introducing contraband in jail. He was placed on probation as a condition of the suspended sentence.

However, that suspended sentence was revoked in September 2008. Taeger is on parole after serving a few months of his concurrent prison sentence.

[LawReport.org Administrator's note: I fail to see what the victim's past has to with the crimes committed by the police in this case.]
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  Filed Under: Assault/battery/attempted, Civil/Const RIGHTS, Fair/Due process, False arrest/charges/reporting, Gun/knife/bomb/threat/rage, Kidnapping/false imprisonment, Lawsuit/Payout, mis-conduct POLICE/Sheriff/FED
 
 
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